December 2009, Medallion Press (via Gazelle Books)
480 pages, Paperback
Paperclips: 4 (but pretty infrequent)
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Summary from Gazelle Books
In this reversal of the Sleeping Beauty story, gorgeous Galiana Montehue -- resisting her family's efforts at arranged marriage -- scorns all her suitors and finds true love only after she awakens an injured knight from a deep sleep. As the novel begins, Galiana has come to view her beauty as a curse, and she fears for her future. Wishing for an adventure, just one, before she is forced to settle down and marry, she takes a stroll in winter's first snowfall with her younger twin brothers and, following them into the forest, is horrified by the sight of a knight drawing a sword on one of the boys. Without thought, she throws a rock and hits the knight on the back of the head, knocking him unconscious. Taken prisoner by the knight's men, Galiana finds herself locked up in a strange manor house where she is forced to care for the incredibly handsome victim of her well-aimed throw, but when the young man finally wakes from his coma, the household's happiness turns to sorrow upon hearing he is now blind. By this time, Galiana has become very fond of her knight, and he in turn is fascinated by her gentleness and her wit. Because he is unable to see Galiana's beauty, she trusts him, and by the time his eyesight returns, the young knight is ready to ask for her hand in marriage. He also reveals his true identity -- as a spy for Prince William. As he describes his life-and-death mission to find an ancient, magical stone known as the Breath of Merlin, Galiana knows her wish for meaning and adventure has come true, and she joins her prince in his fight against the forces of treachery and ancient
The style of writing drew me in to Galiana's life. She's a character I wholeheartedly love. She has confidence, but not too much. Occasionally she can overstep the line, but she lands on her feet eventually.
She isn't afraid to tell the strange knights (apart from one who she knows) who are holding her captive in her own house (well, her parents. In the blurb it says she gets taken to a strange manor - this actually doesn't happen for quite a while in the story), exactly what she thinks of them. She stands up to Rourke, the man who she felled with a stone. I was relieved that she was able to judge pretty accurately when to make a fuss, and when to control herself.
Galiana is beautiful. In the past this has earned her many suitors, but little of that story line is shown in Beauty's Curse. Behind her beauty, which she doesn't really like, hides a great intelligence. She wants to be useful to people. Unlike her family, who do have access to small magic and intuition, she has no skills in that area. What she lacks in skill, she makes up in great enthusiasm and self-portrayed confidence. This sets in her good stead when she sets about teaching her captors a lesson or two, aided (or, perhaps more accurately, hampered) by her brothers.
Rourke and his men are highly likeable. Initially, I thought they were barbarians. I mean, why would Rourke threaten to kill Galiana? She only chucked a rock which nearly killed him in self-defense of her brother. What's the big deal in that? *smiles*
I thought it was good that she knew Rourke's foster brother Jamie a little bit. It meant that although Rourke and his men were unwanted, she would trust Jamie. Trust is perhaps not the best word to use, after all Jamie's allegiance lies with Rourke. But he does protect Galiana from trouble.
Trouble features a lot for Galiana - wishing for one adventure turns out to involve a lot of personal sacrifice. The sacrifice isn't unrewarded though, at least not later on.
I was correct in my assumption that although Galiana might not have magic at the beginning of the story, she definitely is involved with magic by the end.